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tv   [untitled]    November 22, 2011 2:00am-2:30am PST

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overcome such a betrayal of trust, public trust? so we're going to explore some of these issues today with our most imminent panel, all of them experts in their field. and we are very fortunate to have them all here. let me introduce you first to stuart hanlon, at my immediate left. stuart is a defense attorney of great renown. he has over 30 years of experience, including some of the country's most high-profile cases. including cases involving police and official misconduct. next to him is our san francisco police chief, greg suhr, newly appointed to that office last month. congratulations, chief. >> thank you, your honor. [applause] >> chief suhr has surfed in the
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department for 30 years. and as chief he will be overseeing a department of 1,800 police officers. next we have peter herley who is now acting as police consultant. he is the former chief of police of tiburon and the former president of the california police officers association. next to mr. herley is sharon wu, the chief assistant of operations in the district attorney's office. she oversees the criminal division, including the victim witness program and the alternative dispute courts. anne irwin is an attorney in the public defender's office. ms. irwin was recently involved in several of the cases involving the videotaped
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evidence which resulted in the dismissal of over 90 cases. you've read about those in the newspaper. and finally, we have civil rights attorney john burress. he specializes in civil actions brought against police officers for abuse of power, brutality, and wrongful death. let me remind the audience that we will have a brief q&a at the end. if you want to ask a question, just raise your hand. you'll get a card from the usher. and you can ask your question. and if you would like to address it to a particular panel member, you can do that as. i believe we are going to have a video now. it is movie time.
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>> this was recorded on a cellular phone by a witness who did not want to be identified. he was pulled on to the ground, face down. there was a struggle. the officers were neck and neck. those of few feet away watched it all happened. >> this is putting cases in jeopardy. >> she is a longtime employee now suspended. she was supposed to be watching over evidence. tonight, and narcotics cop is being accused of selling drugs. the workbooks in it -- they were booked in martinez this morning.
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>> norman wells was a very high- ranking narcotics commander. they are accused of more than 20 counts including conspiracy and selling marijuana and steroids. >> i feel like i was very much violated. >> also, juveniles and the neighborhood were put in handcuffs themselves. he was in the the raj, when an officer tried to take -- garage. >> the public defender's office says the video is so damning, one of the officers had to cover the lens. narcotics officers said they
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received permission to search two suspects' rooms, but the video tells a different story. >> without a warrant, without knocking, they burst into the room, all four officers, and then later lied in in a police report. >> the first incident in december showed the police officers were using a master key to open the door. they were given permission for the search afterwards. both defendants say one officer cover the camera when he and the three other officers forced their way into the suspect's home. add the public defender asked to have one case on the stand in court. they're already digging into this case.
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>> well -- [laughter] let's discuss this issue. how and why does the abuse of power occurred? i am going to be directing most of my question to specific panel members. however, if other panel members would like to weigh in on one of the questions, and particularly if you disagree, please feel free to interject what ever you would like to into the discussionstuart, -- into the discussion. stuart, i am going to start with you today. u.s. had 30 years of experience at least. are we seeing the most extreme cases of alleged police misconduct, or have you found
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the incidence to be pervasive? what is your experience in this? >> i started as a lawyer working on the case but geronimo pratt, a black panther case. that ended up after 27 years to be proven. and we have learned that law enforcement' officers had good evidence or statutory evidence, let people commit perjury, said in the room and -- sat in the room to destroy evidence to convict someone who was innocent. and that is how i started my career as a lawyer. when i started that case, i began thinking this was a big conspiracy to frame this man. what i learned is -- and i
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discussed this with geronimo -- we are experiencing men and women who thought the end justified the means. they thought they had a bad man and it was ok to do anything necessary to convict him. as i look back on my career, present and future, i think we see that that is the concept that runs through police misconduct. i am sure there are officers who were just bad, let's say. i think officers see what they consider bad people, and they feel like they have to do what ever it takes to convict them. and i have seen it when i was a young lawyer, when we had narcotics teams, we would get clients to said they arrested me with $20,000 and they said i
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only had $10,000. and we knew there were telling the truth. it i have seen it with law- enforcement officers in the case where a rogue cop shot a young girl, and the four other officers were all good men. remember -- you talk about misconduct, but primarily -- i want to get back to this -- most law enforcement people i have grown to know in my career are good and i think want to do the right thing. in this case, i am talking about now, in the middle of a cross-examination, this good cop was lying or not telling the truth to protect this bad cop, who they knew was bad. i said -- what are you doing? and he said to me, what do you want to do? and it was this dilemma. he said he was a good policeman.
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but this concept of "we do what we need to get done" is combined with protecting each other, because it is bus against them. you see it. you continue to see these cases of searches. these policemen do not think -- the people in pacific heights, they think it is okay to break down their door, because they are drug dealers or drug users. the problem we are seeing is the community loses faith in the police department. when we do not have faith and in the police department -- whether it is the judge or the court -- we all lose. these recent events, they are certainly unusual in their occurrence, and one after another. but i think there is something,
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if we were all on this year, we would say we had been here for awhile. -- if we were all honest here, we would say we had been here for awhile. if you look to the person to your left and to your right, he and i are friends, and we got to know each other when he was charged with a crime. falsely charged. police lied about him. getting to know that we have a chief now who cares about people and cares about how the community sees the police, there is hope. i hope there is some hope. it is an ingrained problem. the problem is how you teach policeman at the ends do not justify the means? you do your job and you let the courts work it out. you are not the arbiter. you cannot protect bad cops. they will ruin you. if there are 100 cops and three of them are bad, we look at these videos and say, you are
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all bad. how do we get that the community's faith? it cannot be done by one person. i think we start teaching young policeman -- if you like, if you teach -- if you cheat, you are going to get fired. you are going to get prosecuted. that is the message to come out of these cases. if they commit perjury, they have to go. we have to teach young officers and older officers, you cannot do this. you should never have started. breaking the rules because you think you have to do it to get a bad guy, breaking the rules because you do not trust defense lawyers because we are going to let these scumbags off. i trust the attempts to be done bechief suhr, but it is a long-
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range process. i am not an apologist for greg suhr or the district attorney, but they have to find a solution. without the state, law enforcement does not work. [applause] >> so, chief suhr -- [laughter] what do you do about this problem of the end justifying the means? so, how you teach your young officers or train them not to abuse their power and not to get these bad guys anyway they can and does not matter how they operate? how do you teach trainees about this? >> first, thank you for having me. this is a bit of an away game
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for me. [laughter] [applause] >> either way, it is your home town. >> that is true. >> you might feel like you're on the hot seat on this panel draws that is ok. i can handle it. >> the background is extensive. certainly, after i have come in, there are psychological profiles. there are lie-detector tests. so, we really do try to get it right. only one out of 11 applicants to the police department makes it through. yet, we still get some folks to do some things we would rather have them not do. but character is everything, as has been discussed, in the police department, because they give us an awesome amount of power and responsibility. we can train the officers.
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they get over 1100 hours of training in the academy. integrity is enforced every step of the way. usually, when officers are advanced, it is because they have demonstrated strong character or leadership along the way. but then again, too, in the police department, that is two dozen people. if you get a couple of people who are not doing what you would have them do, you get what you see on different videos. i would like to say, that is a highlight reel of all the things that have been put out. that was not all san francisco law enforcement. the most recent videos -- i could never pretend to be as eloquent as mr. hanlon, but if someone is proven to be dishonest, it is my intention not to have those officers in the san francisco police department anymore. [applause] >> mr. herley, you have been a
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police chief and dealt with police conduct as a consultant. do you have anything to add to what chief suhr has said about preventing misconduct in a police department? >> thank you for having me. i do have to point something out. i was not the president of the california police officers association. it was the california police chiefs association. i spent 21 years in the city of torrance in southern california before coming up here, a city of to under 50,000, about 350 personnel. -- 250,000, about 350 personnel. much smaller organization. completely different type of agency. but one of the things we found was to my career and
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particularly at the beginning, there was really no classis% -- classes pe se, and we started a course on how to be a successful chief. a very strong component of that was an ethics, and what is the chief's responsibility within their department relating to at the experience included in that, it had to do with the abuse of power and misconduct. i was -- i guess you could say "a whistle-blower." i put together a case in which three officers i have worked with had been nearly to deaf a
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game and what they were off duty. -- nearly two -- to death a gain man -- a gay man when they were off duty. i dealt with the consequences for many years. it was very lonely in that position. very lonely getting death threats. very lonely worrying more about the people behind you than the crooks in front of you. not a nice situation. very lonely when you do not get the backing of your fellow officers, at least some of them. or some of them kept quiet. or particularly the administration when there is no investigation. times have changed the lot. -- a lot. there is a saying we have. we do not expect what you do not inspect.
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and if you don't put into place policies that encourage -- i am not saying being a whistle- blower, but encourage proper at 6, and i think -- proper ethics, and i think greg suhr stated very properly its starts in the police academy. u.s. no other position probably in the united states -- certainly not for some of our elected officials. yet no one who gets more scrutiny and more background checks and psychological checks and an 18-month probationary period. we as law-enforcement administrators hope that those kinds of people who do not meet
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on moral and ethical standard, we hope they do not pass or get through. sometimes they do. i find it interesting that this is the -- it has been 20 years, 15 months, and two days since the rodney king incident in los angeles. when i watch that incident. -- when i watched that incident, it gave me shivers. what bothered me -- it was not only the people hitting rodney king -- but it was the other 19, 20 officers who stood around and did nothing. and allowed it to go on. that bothered me as much. and i was a police chief at the time. one of the things a new chief and parents is the department culture -- inherits is the department culture, which chief
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suhr is working with, whether you come from internally or externally. sometimes cultures change. what bothers me is when we see evidence like we saw, we can tell the numbers of officers who were allegedly involved in that and put that against the numbers of officers there are in this bay area region or nationally. but it makes good press. and so, what we do is -- including me -- we paid with that broad a brush. i understand what. it is perception, and truth is only 10% fat and 90% perception. -- fact and 90% perception. what do we do to prevent it?
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we start teaching what our expectations are in the academy. we reinforce those expectations, not just to the academy, but throughout every single daily -- every day, every hour, every minute. this is what we expect of you as our employees, whether you are a sworn officer or not. i really feel that one needs to be more loyal to the integrity than the people. [applause] i came from a background for my parents were holocaust survivors
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-- where my parents were holocaust survivors. i was one of the two people who were jewish to become a policeman. my father could not stand the fact that i would do that. but i had certain values that i carried with me that i came from him, gained from my history, my background, my culture, as others have. and i do not expect anything less from other people than i do of myself. i expect my officers -- and i had it in writing -- i am no longer a cheap. i retired after 35 years and it has been 10 years since then, but i suspect every department has something in their rules and regulations that directs -- and
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we will talk about it in a while -- but directs officers if they see misconduct that that misconduct will be stopped and the officers of starvations -- the officers observations reported immediately to the chief of police. [applause] >> ms. wu, when your department, the district attorney's office discovers an office -- an officer has been untruthful or is abusing power, do you have a policy in place for reporting this? or is there just an understanding, or how does your office deal with this? >> i also think everyone for having me here today. i could not agree more with the panelists to spoke before me.
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i say this to young lawyers all the time in our office. all we are is our integrity. all we are is our ability to communicate and put forth evidence to juries, and we have to rely on that. we have to rely on integrity. it is difficult when these situations happen. i was really involved with the crime lab cases and the allegations against the criminals. i've been very involved in the allegations regarding some of these search and seizure issues, and i am just now becoming involved with the cases of potential theft. and all these are allegations. what is difficult, i think, for prosecutors in our office -- we find folks to be very reactive to these situations. the response often is if
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officers are not being truthful, that we need to look at at the cases this will be involved in. the individuals will not be held accountable. at it really impacts public safety. all of us view our criminal justice system this why. i think that is the biggest failure that i see in terms of these allegations. it has a huge impact, losing faith from the community for the system to work. from our perspective, when we find there is an truthfulness or abuse of power -- and that is a wide range of conduct, from potential misconduct to actual criminal activity of an officer -- we absolutely take action on
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that. i think you can see that through how we reacted to the crime lab scandal and the cases that we have to dismiss because of that, the cases that involve the henry hotel, those allegations, with the officers being taken off the street. what the reaction from our office was was to look at those critically and determine if those witnesses were material witnesses and be prepared to go forward. there is no interest to prosecutor individuals not based on solid evidence. it is not win or lose. for me, it is not winning or losing. it is whether we are doing the right thing. that is the important thing. and so, on the reactive portion for our office, it is looking back and making sure we are
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prosecuting on solid evidence, we are prosecuting and evidence that has integrity. that is the most important thing. i also want to say that we are doing pro-active things. we are sending our lawyers to the academy to train lawyers -- the ethical issue is something we cannot get into as much, because that is an issue the academy might train, but we can train them on what the law is and we can train them on what they can and cannot do pursuant to the law, and we want to give them those tools to make good decisions and could arrests so there is integrity within the system. i agree wholeheartedly with what stewart said earlier, that if there isn't faith in the system, if there is not integrity and
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what we do, it is not just the criminal justice system. we all lose. i will give a plug to my boss. he instituted all lot of policies when he was chief of police, and he did look at potential abuses within the city -- within the system. it is an important carry over to our office to make sure we're doing appropriate reviews whenever these situations happen. [applause] >> ms. irwin, you've been involved in some of these recent cases when it was alleged that video evidence contradicted the police statements. what is your office's wohl in bringing the abuses -- role